The trio returns to action tonight
It was a busy Wednesday night in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as Bahamians DeAndre Ayton, Chavano “Buddy” Hield and Kai Jones all saw time on the floor as they made their 2022-2023 season debut.
Ayton and the Phoenix Suns had to rally from a 22-point deficit to get the late dramatic 107-105 win against the Dallas Mavericks in the late game. The 22-point rally was the Suns’ largest come from behind win since 2017.
Playing in front of home fans at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, Ayton notched a double-double to get the campaign underway with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The big man went 8-for-11 from the field to shoot a blistering 72 percent. The first half saw Ayton picking up three fouls and saw him playing just over seven minutes in that half to score four points. At the end of the first half, the Mavericks led 62-45 which seemed like they were going to run away with it.
Ayton started the third quarter much more aggressive and played all but 55 seconds in that period. He was huge in the comeback when he finished the quarter 3-for-4 from the field and pulled in four rebounds. The Suns looked like the team that secured the best record in the league last season to outscore the Mavericks 31-19 with the Mavericks leading 81-76.
The fourth quarter saw the Mavericks leading by as much as 15 points, 93-78, before the Suns started a furious come back. The Suns took a 101-100 lead with 3:10 remaining in the game. Ayton scored six points in that final quarter that saw the Suns outscoring the Mavericks 31-24.
The game was tied at 105-105 with 32.8 seconds left in the game, Ayton’s teammate Damion Lee made a jumpshot with 9.7 seconds on the clock to put the Suns up 107-105. The Mavericks’ Luka Doncic came up empty with a last-ditch effort as the clock expired.
The Bahamian played the entire fourth quarter to play 30 minutes in the game which is a good sign after fans were wondering what the relationship was between him and head coach Monty Williams.
Ayton returns to the court tonight when they head to Portland, Oregon to play against the Portland TrailBlazers at the Moda Center. Tip-off time is at 10 Eastern Time.
Hield and the Indiana Pacers got their season off on the wrong foot as the Washington Wizards held them off 114-107 at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Grand Bahama native had a rare double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes of play.
He finished the game shooting 6-for-16 from the field including 4-for-11 from deep. The shooting guard also had three assists. Most of his production came in the first half when he finished 5-for-9 from the field and 3-for-6 from deep. The second half saw him shoot poorly going 1-for-7 from the field.
The Pacers never led in this matchup as the Wizards controlled the game from jump with a 36-25 first quarter advantage. At the end of the third quarter, the Wizards led 87-77 but held on in the fourth quarter for the victory.
Next up for the Pacers will be another home matchup tonight against the San Antonio Spurs who will be looking for their first win. Tip-off time is 7 Eastern Time.
Jones played just over four minutes for his Charlotte Hornets but he was able to hit a shot from deep when they blew out the Spurs 129-102 on the road. They quieted the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, for most of the game.
Jones check into the game with 4:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. His only shot of the game, a three-point shot came at the 2:52 mark when he put his team up 125-90.
The Hornets set franchise records in a season opener for points in the first half which was 68 points. They also set the franchise record for most points in the opening quarter with 38 points.
Hornets will play their home opener tonight when they host the New Orleans Pelicans at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Game time is set for 7 Eastern Time.